Astoria, OR was just as quiet and friendly as I remembered it, and the Festival was as inspiring and satisfying as I could have hoped. We packed an impressive amount of singing into a short amount of time, and I came away with suggestions that made an immediate impact, ideas that I’m still working through, and words of encouragement that I’ll hold dear to my heart for a long, long time. Just yesterday I had my first voice lesson back in NYC, and my teacher was very pleased with the adjustments I’ve been making.
Having a full-time job and a puppy means it is rare for me to spend an entire day thinking about music – that I had the opportunity to spend two and a half weeks doing so, and in the company of really great colleagues and teachers, was very special. I’m glad to be back home with Baritone Boy and Dante, and I’ve had two weeks to re-adjust to NYC life, but I do miss the daily schedule of rehearsing, learning, performing, popcorn-making, and late-night Queen of the Night high F’s practicing that our house loved to engage in.
I made life-long friends, whom I cannot wait to see and sing with again. It’s a small opera world, so it’s bound to happen! And let’s not forget I live in NYC, the one city in the USA that every singer friend is bound to visit for one reason or another.
The amount of talent packed into these 10 square miles along the Columbia River was astounding. The line-up of Festival Artists brought local and international musicians into town, and we Apprentices were incredibly lucky to learn from and work with many of them. We sang in masterclasses led by Marie Plette and Richard Zeller, coached with Paul Floyd and Mark Robson, performed with Allan Glassman, and workshopped early music with Hideki Yamaya. I was in awe of their reputations, their talent, and ultimately their generosity and support. Thanks to them, Astoria was a multifaceted experience and more than just an opportunity to add a role to the old resume — I learned about Mozart recit and French Baroque music, I tried out new repertoire, polished and performed existing repertoire, experimented vocally, and got a confidence boost too.
As if that weren’t enough to make for a fabulous experience, the community of Astoria made us feel like stars as well, even with all these headliners in the mix! The Apprentices were featured in a series of concerts around town, and through these performances we developed quite a following. We had regulars who attended every event, and fans who would recognize us at the restaurant or on the street and would stop to chat with us.
At several points I wondered why this Festival, with its ambitious programming and musical stars, was taking place in tiny Astoria instead of a bigger city where a bigger audience could be drawn in …
And on the last day of the Festival the answer dawned on me when Jean, one of our audience regulars, found me after our Così performance. Jean had attended just about every event the Apprentices sang at, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Vocal Apprentice program, and always had lovely compliments after our concerts. Now she gave me a truly unique gift from her own collection, an operetta aria by Romberg she thought I would enjoy, “Will You Remember.”
So, why Astoria? Because here in tiny Astoria, they love good music, and if a tiny town loves good music, you should give it to them.